Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 25th, 2007 at 11:31 am
As detailed yesterday by the Oregonian (and later discussed on this site), the driver of the AGG Enterprises garbage truck that killed Brett Jarolimek last week had a slew of speeding infractions on his record.
Now, I’ve learned that speeding was the least of his problems.
According to my research and to sources who have requested to remain anonymous, the truck driver’s “checkered past” includes:
- Felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance in 1997. (He was charged with drug dealing, but pled to this lesser charge.)
- His Oregon driver’s license was suspended for failing to appear in court for a seatbelt violation. The license had just been reinstated on August 22, 2007.
- A civil negligence lawsuit was filed against him and AGG Enterprises in September 2006. According to copies of the lawsuit I obtained from the Multnomah County Courthouse, the plaintiff alleged that he “smashed into the rear” of their vehicle after they stopped to make a left turn at NE 15th and Lombard. The complaint (dated August 29, 2006) alleges the truck driver was “driving at a speed greater than was reasonable for the conditions, failing to maintain proper control of his vehicle, failing to keep a proper lookout, and/or following too closely.” The plaintiff claimed the collision resulted in just under $80,000 in non-economic injuries and damages. The suit was settled out of court and was dismissed by the Court on June 21, 2007.
You’ll notice that I’ve left the driver’s name out of this story because this is not about him. My reason for posting this information is to make it clear that if someone like this allowed to operate a large, potentially dangerous vehicle on our roads, something is amiss.
This new information should bring even more scrutiny to the issue of how our city regulates drivers of large trucks and the companies that hire them.
The question now is, what can we do about it?
We need to begin a conversation and partnership with the trucking and freight industries about these key issues:
- new equipment requirements for trucks,
- more regulation in the hiring process,
- more oversight of the companies that operate within city limits,
- and improved driver safety training policies and practices specifically around bicycles.
The good news — and if there’s a silver lining to our recent tragedies — is that I’ve already spoken to folks inside PDOT and City Hall that are working on these very issues. (I talked about this with Commissioner Adams in a sit-down interview yesterday that I will publish later today).
Large trucks have enough inherent safety issues by themselves, adding derelict drivers into the mix is a recipe for tragedy.